1. We re-think

We step back and think, before we dive in to a design solution.


Case Study: EMP Museum wayfinding

Client: EMP Museum

With a new exhibition opening every few months, EMP found themselves swapping out sign panels throughout their entire facility just to change one gallery title. We devised a system of removable bands for minimal material waste. Each band can be printed front and back, further prolonging their life. The new system was mounted onto the structures that had held the old signs, to keep waste and costs down.

Read more about this project here.


2. We re-use

We aim to achieve more with less. We re-use to create new.


Case Study: Expect the Unexpected campaign

Client: The Burke Museum

The client needed to get the attention of students on campus but had barely the budget for a poster campaign. As our Open to Question installation was winding down, we proposed re-purposing the steel structures and simply re-skinning them with new graphics. The client was very happy to achieve maximum visual impact with minimal budget outlay.

Read more about this project here.


3. We use friendly materials

Whenever we can, we use recycled and innovative products and ask suppliers to stock eco-friendly materials.


Case Study: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center

Client: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

This 11,000 square-foot space features over 1000 individual graphics but uses an absolute minimum of PVC (a.k.a. vinyl). Though PVC is dominant in typical exhibition displays, it is not biodegradable and creates toxins when it is manufactured and later destroyed. Almost all graphics in the visitor center are printed directly onto locally-sourced wood. An added bonus is a warm and inviting feel, suited to its Pacific Northwest home.

Read more about this project here.


4. We save energy

We design to minimize energy demand.


Case Study: London 2012 Olympics Public Consultation

Client: London Olympic Delivery Authority, London, England

A unique community consultation program used a fleet of modified bikes to engage citizens across five boroughs in east London. Public participation was encouraged using a kit of interactive materials including Polaroids to capture the faces and voices of local communities. Using bikes was a positive message not only about sustainability but also about the Olympics and the role of sports and healthy living.

Read more about this project here.


5. We research

We seek out and use new technologies and materials, and share our findings.


Case Study: www.smart-matter.com

Research project developed at the University of Washington by Kristine Matthews

Smart Matter is an ongoing resource-development project on sustainable materials and resources. What began with eight designers, commissioned to develop unique designs using different sustainable materials, has grown into a stockpile of fresh new ideas from current and recent UW design students. Some commercially available, eco-friendly materials are provided by Stella Color, a local, green-oriented commercial display fabricator. Participants are also tasked to re purpose found materials. Projects are featured on www.smart-matter.com along with tips on how to design green. Check out the new Waste Not gallery here.


6. We design to last

We specify the right material for the job. This avoids the need for replacement, and a double-whammy on cost and materials.


Case Study: Change Elevators

University of Washington Foster School of Business

The client wanted an installation that would last as long as their new, “one hundred year building.” Our solution is crafted from stainless steel type set into stone tile floors on six levels of the building, both inside and outside of the elevators. Despite their high-traffic location, they continue to wear well. As the elevators move, different phrases are created at each floor—for example GLOBAL CHANGE, LOCAL CHANGE.

Designed in collaboration with Karen Cheng

Read more about this project here.


7. We get people talking

We create projects that promote an exchange of ideas.


Case Study: Dear Seattle

Seattle Design Festival / AIA Seattle

Our Dear Seattle pop-up space for the Seattle Design Festival got citizens talking about how design can play a major role in creating better places to live. Participants were invited to write a giant, communal letter to the city, create a map pinpointing Seattle’s hidden treasures and hot spots, and provide a street-wise design critique.

Read more about this project here.


8. We save money

We demonstrate to our clients that thinking “green” can save waste, resources and money. Making a product work harder is smart.


Case Study: University of Washington Master of Fine Arts promotion

University of Washington School of Art

This catalog design featured a sticker sheet for selecting and displaying your own “art collection.” Extra stickers were applied to inexpensively printed black and white business cards, transforming them into highly collectable calling cards for the graduating students. The budget for a printed catalog was thus stretched to perform double promotional duty.

Read more about this project here.


9. We support what we believe

We push for agendas we care about: better education, waste reduction, protecting our environment, working to make good things happen.


Case Study: The Pollinator Pathway

Client: Sarah Bergmann / The Pollinator Pathway

We first started our pro bono collaboration with Pollinator Pathway creator Sarah Bergmann back in 2009. We designed an identity and communications to help tell her story: an initiative to combat Colony Collapse Disorder with a mile-long chain of pollinator-friendly gardens. The project has blossomed into everything from a Seattle Art Museum exhibition to a Pathway-inspired table for a fundraising dinner at Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park. Next step: a Pathway network across the nation.

Read more about this project here.


10. We teach the next generation

We believe that design can be beautiful, clever and sustainable all at once. And we believe in inspiring students to think the same way.


Case Study: The Want Store

Developed in Kristine Matthews’ Environmental Design course at the University of Washington.

Student team: Donica Ida, Terry Liu, Francis Luu, Ivy Sa

The Want Store concept installation is about understanding how to create social impact with communication design. In Kristine’s course, students learn how a well-conceived, well-placed concept can graphically trigger positive change. The Want Store asked college students, “Do you really need it?,” encouraging them to stop and think about alternatives instead of consuming mindlessly.

Featured in Print Magazine, Core77, designboom, and CultureNow.

See more student responses to this challenge in Teaching.